A Cardiff graduate author who pulled out of a deal from a traditional publisher explains how much you can gain from self-publishing.
Daniel Parsons had dreamt of being an author since the age of 16. He studied English Literature, and is now an independent author having published four books with a fifth one coming out next month.
“I pulled out of the deal with the traditional publisher because I just preferred the flexibility of self-publishing,” says Daniel. “You can sort of control price and things like that, so it makes a lot more sense for me when I advertise it.”
Now he prefers self-publishing over traditional publishing. “As I discovered how much more beneficial it can be to be self-published. I sort of gravitated towards that,” he explains.
London Book Fair 2017, the annual biggest publishing trade fair in the UK, was held from 14 March for three days, which is a huge opportunity for independent authors to make connections.
Daniel has been one of the visitors since 2015.
There are a number of benefits of being an independent author. For instance, the royalties you get from self-publishing can be seven times higher than using traditional publishers. You can also get involved in every process such as designing the covers, choosing the fonts, and most importantly, you can hold the copyrights.
Normally, in the UK, your copyrights will depend on publishers for your entire life plus 70 years. This is because when you publish books thorough publishers, you will have to sign the contracts which state that your copyrights will be taken by the publisher.
Once you sign the contracts, you will lose the rights to decide publishing the audio version, or having your books translated.
On the other hand, Daniel says: “One thing that traditional publishers can do a lot better than self-publishing at the moment is bookshops. Bookshop distribution is really difficult.”
As well as having less influence on bookshop distribution, you have to market yourself, which requires a lot of time. “Marketing is the biggest thing independent authors have to deal with,” he says. “And trying to work the algorithm is the most challenging aspect of self-publishing because if you can work with algorithm, then you can get into a chart and it exposes you to thousands or even millions of readers.”
Although there are some best-selling independent authors such as Rachel Abbott, who has been the 14th bestselling author in the last five years in on Kindle in 2015, self-publishing hasn’t been the most popular way for aspiring writers.
She said to The Guardian that she had to deal with the belief that self-publishing authors are somehow inferior to traditionally published authors. She also said when she did her own marketing for her first book, Only the Innocent, she was working 14 hours a day, seven days a week.
Some may believe “Self-publishing? I can’t be bothered,” or “You can’t do everything by yourself. That’s why publishers exists.”
However, these beliefs are not true anymore. Publishing books yourself is neither difficult nor expensive. If you have a story in the format of PDF or Word and title of the book, then you can publish your book all over the world in 24 hours. Some big companies like Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) by Amazon makes it very easy.
This is the process of publishing your books by KDP.
Daniel says: “I eventually came around to the fact that you can publish the same quality as a publisher if you know what you’re doing. If you hire a professional editor, proofreader, cover-designer and all those sort of people, then you can achieve the same quality.”
This year, Amazon launched a £20,000 literary prize for Kindle authors, which is open until 19th May for all writers. If you have a book you’ve written but kept in the shelf for a while, now is the perfect time to self-publish your book.
“Keep practicing when it comes to actual craft of writing, because even if you got the best marketing plan in the world, you’re not going to be a huge success if the quality of writing isn’t good,”
“If you really want to make a long-term career, you need to go for qualities over just a marketing plan. If you can learn some online marketing yourself, then that’s going to be a massive help and give you advantage over the majority of writers who probably don’t naturally have the skills to go into big online venture without actually learning it first,” says Daniel.